Exporting stolen mobile phones to other countries is apparently big criminal business. Police have revealed that even blocked handsets will still work abroad and that around 100,000 handsets worth an average of £40 each are resold on the black market every year.
The Government, police and mobile phone industry will now be working together to clamp down on this criminal activity. A new code of practice is being put in place so that recycling companies can check every phone they are offered against a database of stolen handsets. If any are a match, they’ll be rejected and the recycling firm will tell the old bill on the seller. It’s not a compulsory check though, with 90% of phone recycling firms coming on board.
Pats on the back all round? Not quite. Two things strike me about this plan: first, why weren’t they already doing this if we’ve got this handy database kicking around anyway (no doubt populated by the need for a crime reference number for your insurance claim)? Seems a bit remiss.
Secondly, I’m pretty sure this isn’t going to stop the actual hardcore criminals. If they can’t flog the handsets to a legit recycling firm, then there’s always the 10% that won’t check the handset out. If all else fails, I’m pretty sure there’s a stall at Wolverhampton indoor market that does a brisk trade in less than legal handsets.
Mobile phone theft is so prolific there’s a tendency to shrug it off, but clearly some fat criminal cats are getting very wealthy and funding who knows what with our poor little handsets. This is a step in the right direction, but the loophole still very much remains.
[via Press Association]